THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER March 23, 2018 Guest: Joyce Vance, Michael McFaul, Bill Kristol, Christina Greer, Hall Raines, Erik Wemple, Liz Plank, Bobbito Garcia; Vic Mensa, Kevin Trejos CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER start right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you.
We begin tonight with breaking news in the Mueller probe.
For the first time, I can tell you there are reports tonight that Bob Mueller is tracing the campaign email hacks back to a person inside the Kremlin. We don`t know if that means any new charges at any point. But this is different, because until tonight, as you may know from watching the news, all of Mueller`s indictments and most reporting on this probe left all of the emails to the side.
Now that`s important because stealing emails just like stealing files in Watergate is a crime. And the "Daily Beast" is reporting the person who hacked the Democrats was working for Putin, specifically for his military intel service, the GRU at their Moscow headquarters which brings the probe to Putin`s door and raises new questions about long time Trump advisor Roger Stone who said he was in touch with that same hacker, though at the time there were obviously not public reports about this link.
Now even if you stipulate, maybe there was no collusion, investigation hasn`t determine that yet, this Putin link alone would put more pressure on any logical President to stand up to Putin`s interference. The U.S. now has the Mueller indictment on Russian interference. And these new reports on Russian theft that the indictment said Russia a lot, it never said Putin.
In the most brazen part of this whole story, though, consider the most suspicious behavior that we think any security advisor or lawyer would advise the President not to do, but he keeps suspiciously assisting Putin to deny these types of allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that President Putin really feels and he feels strongly that he did not meddle in our election. What he believes is what he believes.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): They do not represent the government. I could not care less. They do not represent the interests of the Russian state. Maybe they are not even Russians. Maybe they are Ukrainians, (INAUDIBLE), Jews, just with Russian citizenship, even that needs to be check. Maybe they have dual citizenship or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work, how do you know? I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Maybe a green card. Quite a fancy legal phrase there. And it`s actually pretty glaring tonight, because Trump`s foreign digital firm is under review by Mueller and a new British search warrant order after a hidden video that showed all of these bad things they did and these new allegations that the company`s foreign staff were actually warned about the legal risks of playing around in our American campaigns. Which, you know, involves like getting a green card and working here.
Now let`s get to it. There`s a former employee of that digital firm you may have heard of by now. He is the whistleblower who joined me for that special interviewed last night. And in the interview, he actually advanced the story telling us not only did those foreigners work he said on U.S. campaign, but they were warned about the legal risk of doing that by Rudy Giuliani`s law firm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, WHISTLEBLOWER: Rudy Giuliani`s law firm actually sent us a memo to Steve Bannon, (INAUDIBLE) and Alexander Knicks that actually outlined the fact that in the United States you cannot run campaigns with foreign citizens who aren`t permanent residents and the company was warned that Alexander Knicks should recuse himself of substantive management duties.
MELBER: Giuliani warned the people you named during the campaign?
WYLIE: Rudy Giuliani`s law firm.
MELBER: Rudy Giuliani`s law firm during the campaign and your view is they ignored those warnings?
WYLIE: They did. They completely disregarded it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Ignoring that kind of warning in the legal memo that your own digital firm requested, that`s not nothing. And to verify those allegations, of course, we wanted to see the memo, so we asked for it. And tonight, I can tell you on TV for the first time, we got it.
This is not some low level paper work. This is from the law firm of one of Donald Trump`s earliest allies, Rudy Giuliani, addressing one of Trump`s biggest donors and his future campaign manager and the now suspended CEO of this controversial firm. Let me show you what we got. He warned them, this firm, not to do something that the whistleblower told us they went on to do.
NBC investigative reporter Anna Schechter obtained this memo and she has been reporting out the impact at the firm. The lawyers directly advising Mercer, Bannon and Knicks, right there in 2014, telling them that Knicks should avoid the possibility of breaking U.S. law and thus recuse himself of substantive management of these American campaigns and clients involving U.S. elections.
Also warning him that the analysis of Cambridge`s trove of data should be conducted by, wait for it, U.S. citizens. Now this was all before the 2016 Trump campaign, to be clear. And a source telling NBC right now that Cambridge embedded foreigners in other congressional races. The whistleblower, Christopher Wiley tells us this was actually common with up to 20 foreigners working on these GOP congressional races.
Now Cambridge continues to deny their CEO did play the kind of strategic or operational role that the firm, Giuliani`s firm was telling him not to play. And I want to be very clear about what we have and what we don`t know yet.
It will take a lot more investigation to even estimate whether Cambridge disregarding this advice in this one secret memo that we have, whether disregarding it, actually led to the violation of any laws. Indeed, that`s what Mueller and this new British search may begin to assess.
But let`s widen out. All of this news comes on a night when Putin`s links to felonious hacking are more public than ever, as Trump taps this new national security advisor John Bolton who has the duty to give the President the facts on these threats posed by Putin even if Trump likes Putin. And he has the duty to share the national security risk that maybe posed by Cambridge Analytica`s newly understood role in our politics, even if Trump hired them.
But come to think of it, that`s something these two men actually have in common. Because John Bolton`s super Pac spent over a million dollars employing Cambridge Analytica and using their data.
I`m joined by Bill Kristol, founder and editor-at-large of the "Weekly Standard," the former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance.
And Bill, I begin with a question that we often ask after we go through that many facts, what the what?
BILL KRISTOL, FOUNDER/EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: I think Russia was more involved in the 2016, and maybe the 2014 elections directly or indirectly than people have wanted to believe. And there were some connections to firms that were connected, I guess, to the Trump campaign, is that a fair way to say it?
KRISTOL: It doesn`t prove collusion. It doesn`t prove that Donald Trump knew this was happening.
KRISTOL: But it`s real. It is real. And incidentally, one of the Republican talking points these days on the hill is, while Russia won maybe they meddled. They just wanted to cause chaos. They didn`t want Trump to win. That I think is not credible. It is very clear from public end and public statement (INAUDIBLE) discovered that Putin preferred Trump to Clinton.
KRISTOL: It may not affected the results, he may have. We don`t know. We don`t know how much cooperation there was to the Trump campaign. Today, I was come back to the why is Trump so defensive? Why, you know, the misleading statements about the Trump tower meeting and so forth. If there was no problem, if Trump just, you know, they were doing stuff that Trump knew nothing about, why does he hate this investigation so much?
MELBER: Ambassador McFaul, what is your opinion of these links that we just put together.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: I agree with Bill. I want to underscore two pieces over what he just said about that this shows more conclusively than before that the Russians were trying to help Trump win, right. The Guccifer 2.0, the one that you have talked about, the alleged hacker that now it sounds like we know was working for the GRU. He was hacking the DNC.
MELBER: Only for technical reason, there is some sort of sound issue. We are going to fix it.
Joyce, I`ll put the same question to you - it is television. Joyce, I will put the same question to you. We will come back to the ambassador. What do you think about these links?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The linkages will be really interesting for the Mueller investigation, because we have to remember that what Mueller is looking at, these basic questions law enforcement tries to answer are who, what, when, where and why. And so this who question that Bill raises, who was involved, what did Trump know about what was going on?
This is really what all of these linkages will force Mueller to focus on, trying to figure out did Trump or anyone else at the top of the campaign know about Guccifer, know about the connection into Cambridge Analytica from all of these data and the use of foreign workers. And if so, is Trump ultimately responsible for some of these illegal conduct or what appears to be illegal conduct.
MELBER: And Joyce, while I`m talking to you in the legal way, and I think ambassador is doing a mic check, and that`s what we do sometimes on THE BEAT. You got to get your mic working before you can drop your analysis.
But Joyce, I want to ask you and I want to play for you something that Randy Credico was saying on this show as well about Roger Stone. So much has happened this week. This Guccifer news today is interesting because in all fairness to Roger and everyone else, it is news that he is linked back to the Putin forces. So that means it wasn`t actually known at the time in fairness. But this was a person Roger said he was in contact with along with Assange and all of this other digital activity. And the Mueller probe, as I remind people, sometimes is at bottom a digital investigation.
Take a listen to Trump advisor Roger Stone`s associate Randy Credico and he is denying, denying that he gave the inside information that Assange had claimed.
MELBER: Well, on August 8th, you have Stone saying that he communicated with Assange ad that Trans of Clinton email documents would come out in this so-called October surprise. That is August 8th. Are you saying by reference of this timeline that that`s not something Stone could have gotten from you at that time?
RANDY CREDICO, ROGER STONE`S ASSOCIATE: You, you know what? You are going to two a tricky Dick Richard Nixon on me, I`m going to come right back and do some impressions with you.
MELBER: I know you are doing an impression. But are you buying time or are you telling me that that was a lie.
CREDICO: Roger Stone is a trickster. Roger Stone moves around and says a lot of different things. I think his memory is selective.
MELBER: Randy, I got to stop you, you just said he moves around.
MELBER: You`re moving around. I read you the statement. Is it true or false? I`ll read it again if you want.
CREDICO: Go ahead and read it again.
MELBER: This is at issue in the criminal probe regarding a lot of important things. From the end of July through August, through the end of September, Credico insisted Assange was about to published this material on the Democrats which Randy described as devastating to Hillary. Is that true or false?
MELBER: That`s false. So Roger Stone is lying. Is he lying to say --?
CREDICO: I think Roger Stone has selective memory right here.
MELBER: Joyce, tie it all together and then to the ambassador.
VANCE: Roger Stone had remarkably good information about what was coming out of WikiLeaks. He predicted that John Podesta would have his time in the barrel and sure enough it came true. So the issue of the legal issue here is whether Stone, whether he is willing to acknowledge or not was clearly having contact with Russian linked folks with people who were working with Russians. Whether that linkage was apparent to anyone in the Trump organization.
And this is obviously the question that has underline - underlying this investigation from the start. It`s digital. People are interfacing anonymously. Do they know who everyone that they are talking to is? With Stone it seems remarkably unlikeable he didn`t. What did he relate him that people in the campaign and whom did he have those conversations with?
MELBER: And ambassador, I know you are a fan of the (INAUDIBLE) who always Too many emcees, not enough mics. That was our problem. I think you have a working mic. And that we are all eager to hear all any analysis you have on all of the above.
MCFAUL: Well, I just wanted to underscore two things that Bill said earlier. That this is further evidence of Russian intentions, right? It`s not just that they were trying to mess around in our elections, but one, it was the Russians that stole the emails and then published them to help Trump against Clinton. And whether it determined the election, nobody thinks that, but did it have no impact? Absolutely not. That`s ludicrous. To argue that WikiLeaks dump had no impact on the election.
And number two, you are pulling on a thread, but we need to keep pulling on it. But looking at what Cambridge Analytica did, how they shared their data with other people and how that may have hand ended up at some point into the hands of Russians, also sickening to do targeted advertisement. That is a thread I think we need to keep pulling on and again showing that they were trying to help one side and hurt the other side.
MELBER: Stay with me. I want to add into this conversation my special guest Hall Raines. He is former executive editor of the "New York Times" and MSNBC news analyst, as well as Christina Greer, from NYU`s McSilver Institute and the panel will stay with me.
But on the wider probe here, when you look at this, Hall, your view of what`s coming out and some of it from your former paper, the Times, as well as our partners in ITN and Britain have blown open the story in a way that`s affected the Trump administration, Cambridge, Facebook, which has lost $50 billion in stock value. Where do you see this going?
HOWELL RAINES, FORMER EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well first, I think this panel has laid out this story in a really even handed way. And I think the Times story today about the connections involving Cambridge Analytica and John Bolton and the whole chain of people who are connected to that Nexus is the critical development in this story.
I must say, the Times had one of the most extraordinary headlines today I remember seeing in my long years there. After another week of chaos, Trump heads to Palm Beach. No one knows what comes next. That`s not editorializing. That`s a very good description of the reality of Washington today. And we are into new territory with this Cambridge Analytica GRU connection.
As for Roger Stone, I have known him many years. He can put things in a convoluted and tricky way, but he has almost always in my experience talked to the people he said he has talked to.
So I think a number of these threads, to use the ambassador`s metaphor are being pulled on. And this is an extraordinary moment, not only do we see this international intrigue around our most fundamental Democratic processes, but we are also seeing at the same time, this amazing political theater of government by tantrum.
MELBER: You put it quite well, and something Christina Greer, who joins our panel has also discussed because she has talked about what she has characterized as a kind of young or adolescent emotional viability in the President.
Christina, I wonder if you would build on that point and let me throw in to Bill on Hall`s observation from Roger Stone, a quote from him back in 2016, when he said it doesn`t seem the Russians hacked the DNC. Instead, a hacker who goes by the name Guccifer 2.0 suggesting either he was very gullible or given him self-proclaimed dirty trickster rep. He was helping them with the cover-up - Christina.
CHRISTINA GREER, FELLOW, NYU/MCSILVER INSTITUTE: I think it`s pretty clear that so many people in this particular administration knew something, whether or not they knew everything doesn`t really matter right now. But I mean, the interesting point to me is what does Robert Mueller know? Right.
It seems as though as journalists and political scientists and analysts were all pulling on these threads to see which one will be the thread that sort of unravels the whole thing. The question is does Robert Mueller have that thread already, right? I mean, he is clearly been doing his due diligence. And very methodically, thinking about Russia, thinking about following the money, thinking about all these people who were involved in the campaign process.
The reason why it is so important and I know that Donald Trump`s base doesn`t really think that this is a story and they keep calling it a nothing burger or whatever it maybe. And unfortunately, members of the House and members of Congress writ-large don`t really see this as a problem.
However, we have to realize we actually have some elections coming up in New York June, in September and even November across the country. So we have 435 members of the House who are up for re-election. We have one- third of the Senate, so 33 individuals up for re-election. And so, if Russia did meddle, it does matter because we have free and fair elections, last time I checked.
And so, when we have an executive who behaves as though, you know, a tantrum king if you will, but the issue that we really must consistently check is that we have the executive branch that is abdicating to these tantrums and not really upholding the law of the land by saying --
MELBER: Right. Because they don`t just work for the President. They work for the American people and they have an oath.
I want to get Joyce in also on the other big news which is the lawyers. We could put up on the screen, all these changes, you see there Dowd out, Kasowitz, who was out, may be coming back, then you got the civil cases relating to the NDAs and the women which we are covering later this hour. And then the rumors about Don McGahn.
Walk us through this. I`m going to leave it up on the screen for a moment. Walk us through it Joyce, just what we are seeing there, all those people.
VANCE: There`s obviously a lot of instability on the President`s legal team, one of the issues that that seems to reflect is the President`s desire to be his own lawyer and to cut his own future. There is reporting that he and Dowd had a falling out over whether or not the President would speak with Bob Mueller directly, Dowd didn`t want him to. There are reports that Trump has even spoken with former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova and perhaps his wife about having the two of them come in and represent Trump and then having Trump move forward with an interview with Bob Mueller.
That`s an event we have all been working for, whether the President will speak with Mueller in an informal interview or in front of a grand jury. That really is one of the events that this investigation has been moving towards and a shake-up in this President`s legal team may have a big impact on when that happens and what form that interview will take.
MELBER: Right. And whether that was the whole reason for the crack up or something more.
Hall and Bill, stay with me. Bill, is part of our fallback Friday with DJ Bambino Garcia and the rapper Vic Mensa. I know you are excited about that.
Everyone else, thank you for joining our special coverage. We have a lot more including the gun march, I want to talk to you about. Why Trump`s going from the TV green room to the White House for a lot of his picks. The former reality TV star reshaping the west wing on camera. New hints from Stormy Daniels` attorney about what happened leading up to this much anticipated interview.
Millions of Americans are getting on busses today, tonight, tomorrow morning for what many are calling historic marches to change how guns are regulated. I`m going to speak to a survivor of the Parkland shooting.
As well as, as I mentioned, Vic Mensa, he is performing at the concert here in Washington tomorrow.
All that, plus, fallback Friday.
I`m Ari Melber. You are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: So Trump`s new hire John Bolton just found out he lost his part- time job as a FOX News contributor, live on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, your reaction to your new job?
BOLTON: Well, I think I still am a FOX News contributor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you`re not apparently.
BOLTON: Well, I haven`t started there yet. So that demonstrates I think the sort of limbo that I`m in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Limbo, it is limbo. Of course there are worse ways to find out you are out of a job. Bolton is getting promoted to the White House after all, not abruptly removed like a series of Trump aides who found out so last minute. There are news outlets who have wonder whether anyone found literally found out they lost their Trump job on twitter as (INAUDIBLE) recently asked about Tillerson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he just firing and hiring people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Rex Tillerson find out about this on twitter?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, you`re fired, dad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t follow you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And that`s a rough way to go. But even if you move beyond the twitter or public disrespect that Trump has shown to some aides on their way out, no. Many of their replacements appear live from a green room near you. Banker Derek Cohn replaced by CNBC`s Larry Kudlow, corporate lawyer John Dowd out, as FOX commentator Joseph diGenova enters and FOX News` itself reporting that his wife, Victoria Toensing will join the team from FOX News.
So here is where casting meets policy. Bolton says all kinds of snappy things that sure they might make for good TV segments, but is a first move against North Korea as good an idea as it is a FOX News sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: I think the only diplomatic option left is to end the regime in North Korea.
Question, how do you know that the North Korean regime is lying? Answer, their lips are moving. When a foreign intelligence service conducts an operation and leaves evidence pointing the finger at somebody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in other words China may have left fingerprints that look like Russia in the computer?
Why would Russia leave their fingerprints that it was trying to influence in the election?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Those kind of views helped prevent Bolton from getting a Senate confirmation when George Bush tried to appoint him as a diplomat, but not now. The Senate has no vote on this job. And if Trump is turning the cabinet into a TV casting call, we can`t say we weren`t warned. That was the exact premise of President Obama`s deadly punch line when he humiliated and tethered Trump in a 2011 roast to his face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just recently in an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice," at the steakhouse, the men`s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks. You, Mr. Trump, recognize that the real problem was a lack of leadership, you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Back with us is Hall Raines, former executive editor of the "New York Times," and the "Washington Post" Erik Wemple who focuses on media analysis and has already written about this resolving door between FOX News and Trump`s key hires.
Erik, do you think he is building a cabinet and White House team? Or do you think it looks more like he is building a rival cable news station?
ERIK WEMPLE, MEDIA CRITIC, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I don`t know how much of a rival it`s going to be. I think basically what you have here, Ari, is a President who doesn`t read. And you have a President who has never shown any interest in books or magazines or newspapers so much. And so he watches television, hours and hours and hours of it.
This is his world. So the luminaries in his world are the ones that come on cable TV. And that`s how he makes his judgments, those are the people he thinks are smart in the campaign. I believe he said something to the effect that he gets his foreign policy information from the Sunday shows. You know, it`s endless. He spends hours and hours and hours in front of the television. And so we are just seeing this as a reflection of what the media that the President consumes.
MELBER: And if it is a show, then you don`t need leaders, you only need actors, talkers, and Hall, this was Steve Bannon`s view of it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: If General Kelly at any time does decide to leave the President decides it`s time for him to move on, I don`t believe there will be another chief of staff. I think that there will be direct - I think there will be five or six direct reports like there was in Trump tower. I think the President is a very hands on manager and he feels more comfortable with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAINES: Well, this is a sobering moment. The showbiz metaphor is apt. We have a soap opera in which the star has taken over as director and script writer, while the stage managers, the Congress are locked out of the theater. I thought I was scared to learn about John Bolton`s appointment. But the idea that now the center poles, such as it is from this circus is really sobering.
MELBER: Hall, I got to tell you, and I don`t like to break the fourth wall, that`s not how I roll, but I have a stage manager laughing offset here in Washington. I don`t know what viewers think, but other people appreciate what you are saying and it goes to the deeper point. Although it is -- look, we got the wide shot.
It goes to the deeper point, Hall, and that is this. Americans have always liked shaking up Washington. That`s why governors have historically done better than senators, we know that. And that`s why younger newer candidates like JFK or Obama have done better than very well respected older candidates like John McCain. And yet, you are putting your finger on the fact that the American public elected someone with zero public - public sector experience for the first time. Do you think that is now proving to be a bad way to go, to put a rookie in-charge of the federal government?
RAINES: Yes, indeed. And I want to repeat something that Bill Kristol said today earlier on this network. He said he thought that a lot of people who said, OK, I will roll the dice with Trump are now saying, no way. I`ll try it again on his second term. I think that`s very astute.
The trick though is getting to the second term. And this brings us back to the very sobering point about John Bolton, who`s tied to Cambridge Analytica, who`s tied to Bannon, who is tied to the Mercer family. He was the most unstable, unpredictable member of the Bush administration. Now if John Kelly leaves, and General Mattis leaves, we will be looking to him to where the most stable member of the Trump administration. This is -- we`re really, truly through the looking glass here.
MELBER: I`m out of time, Erik, a final sentence or two. Your bumper sticker on this issue?
WEMPLE: Well, I -- you know, I watched the idiocy on Fox News and it scares me to see it sort of migrating to the White House.
MELBER: There it is. There it is. Erik Wemple, Howell Rains, thank you both. Up ahead, Stormy Daniels lawyer makes a new demand, a legal one to Trump hours before this weekend`s much anticipated tell all. And I`m in Washington and I`m going to be part of our team coverage of what some are calling a historic day to change gun control in this country tomorrow. One of the Parkland student activists is here. And a special edition of "FALLBACK FRIDAY," Rapper Vic Mensa who`s performing tomorrow will be here on set up ahead.
MELBER: Here`s a question, did Donald Trump sign his own NDA because he was unsually quiet when asked about new women coming forward against him today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal lying about the affairs?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Vox`s Liz Plank, friend of the show who`s been reporting on this story joins me now. Liz, take it away
LIZ PLANK, SENIOR PRODUCER, VOX: Hi, Ari, so look, Stormy Daniels is bad news for the President. Karen McDougal might actually be worse news for the President because she signed away her right to actually speak or thought that that was what she was doing, and Stormy Daniels signed away her rights to be able to speak.
And so -- but at the same time, Donald Trump who is suing her is basically admitting that he didn`t sign that NDA and that there is an NDA that`s happening. And this is one of the days where I actually ask myself does Donald Trump really want to be President and does he sort of regret actually running for President? Yesterday there was an event at the White House for millennial`s, millennial (INAUDIBLE) millennial day and he was asked you know, what would be your advice for 25-year-old Donald Trump and he said don`t run for president.
MELBER: And you think he was telling the truth?
PLANK: Yes, I mean, first of all, he looked very honest and had no hesitation in answering that question. But like yeah, he, you know, Donald Trump wants the privilege of being president without the responsibility, without the accountability that comes with that. That`s why he is making so many of his employees sign NDAs for example and requiring they be silent when that is something that is just unenforceable. And you have a woman like Stormy Daniels who`s eloquent, and smart and impeccable in all of her media appearances so far and so for sure the White House is wanting to know what`s going to be happening when she going to be coming out on 60 minutes and telling her version of the story.
MELBER: Liz Plank, thank you as always for helping us as always keep track of this story.
PLANK: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: I have a programming note, Stormy Daniels lawyer, Michael Avenatti will be on HARDBALL tonight, that`s next hour. As for us, we have a lot more. Vic Mensa, the Grammy-nominated rapper will be here along with Bill Kristol from the Weekly Standard and D.J. Bobbito Garcia. It`s a special edition of "FALLBACK FRIDAY" and it`s back in just 90 seconds.
MELBER: It`s Friday on THE BEAT. You know what that means, it`s time to "FALLBACK." Tonight we have a very special "FALLBACK," our first Washington, D.C. "FALLBACK FRIDAY," and we put together what we think might be the best panel ever. I`ve got Bill (INAUDIBLE) Kristol of the Fat Joe interview fame. You lit bill, that`s what they say. Bobbito, who`s back. He was herewith Stretch and he`s left Stretch on the side of the road for reasons unknown. And a very special guest tonight is Vic Mensa. He is a rap artist from Chicago, he founded Save Money, Save Life, a foundation which combats racism and funds programs on his own hometown. His latest album is the Auto Biography, he also has a new music video out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIC MENSA, FOUNDER, SAVE MONEY SAVE LIFE: They know I got my own money, handmade t-shirt, it`s off-white Murakami, met her at Equinox, she got no tummy, hey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And here we are, thank you guys for doing this.
MENSA: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: Vic, I`ll tell you, if you thought I wasn`t going to have you on THE BEAT, my view is, I am having you on the beat, Didn`t I, Didn`t I, Didn`t I tell you that.
MELBER: Word, OK, we get the bad, dad rap jokes out of the way, that`s the last one, OK? I promise. Now, Bobby, you are here, you are --
BOBBITO GARCIA, D.J.: Bobbito or Bob.
MELBER: You`re Bobbito or bob.
GARCIA: If you want me back, don`t call me Bobby. And I think that`s the last time.
MELBER: OK, we`ll do Bobbito -- we`ll do Bobbito. All right, cool. But I still -- we still have to get to the bottom of something. Last time we had you with your legendary co-deejay Stretch. And Stretch said we can only do it on a day where I can do it with Bobbito. I come down to Washington, and you`re like, that`s fine, we`ll go without Stretch, no problem.
GARCIA: I hit him up and I was like, they asked me to be back on the show. I`ve never met you, person, to person.
MELBER: No, I don`t even know your name.
GARCIA: I thought it was you know, an honor to be returning.
MELBER: Well, I love that you`re back. I`m glad Stretch authorized it. I`m going to go with you fist. Bobbito, who needs to fall back?
GARCIA: Wow, a lot of people. I think -- just the timely fall back is NCAA. I`m very proud to say my alma mater Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, played if not the first perhaps one of the very first collegiate games against Yale. It was back over 100 years ago. That was a very different time in college athletics. And at this point, there are revenues that are just enormous, you know, measuring in the billions. Sponsors, brands, and I just think that the athletes, the student athletes should be involved in some profit sharing.
MELBER: You think -- you think they`re being basically exploited?
GARCIA: They do get education, that`s wonderful. They do get to travel. That`s wonderful. But the term amateur in 2018 is completely different as a definition than it was 50 or 70 years ago. So I think we need to revisit what the parameters are for that.
MELBER: Bill Kristol, who needs to fall back this week?
KRISTOL: I just want to say that before they revisit the NCAA, I hope Loyola Chicago goes all the way. That was pretty amazing. You got to root for upsets, you know. I just -- general being here is, of course, an honor. I feel like occasionally, this happened when I was a kid, I got invited by mistake to the cool kid`s party, you know, and that happened once or twice, and I have not -- I`ve got 40 years without being with cool people so it`s really good to be with you guys.
I think -- I can`t even remember what my fall back thing is, of course. The House Republicans should fall back because they`re really -- it`s embarrassing for them to be saying that Russia didn`t try to influence the election in favor of Trump. They don`t have to give up their policies, they don`t have to give up their principles, but they really should stop being -- it`s just terrible going there. And they didn`t do anything to protect Mueller. They`re out for two weeks. I`m pretty worried about these two weeks, honestly.
MELBER: What happens when they`re gone?
MELBER: Vic Mensa who needs the fallback?
MENSA: I`m going with the Sacramento Police Department --
KRISTOL: Yes, how about that?
MENSA: -- after shooting the man unarmed in his backyard. Well, you watch the video and obviously, it was chaotic, it was dark, but the line they crossed between assessing the situation and excessive force/homicide was a second`s -- it was a seconds time to pass. And then they emptied the clip, 20 shots, you know. It just seems like they need more training, they need more accountability. I mean, I`m over here, my foot ask kind of broken right now because I got in a motorcycle crash and I did my two days of motorcycle training, you know, but things can still go wrong. It seems like maybe they`re not even doing two days of motorcycle training in their own field.
MELBER: Right, you`re talking about the danger of -- you`re talking about when you`re operating heavy machinery or operating a weapon.
MENSA: Yes, I mean, it`s like, the things you have to go through, you know, in our country, the things you have to go through to get -- just to get on a bike, you know, compared to what you have to go through to own a weapon, where you can kill other people, as opposed to just being a danger to yourself. Police officers mainly, though, that`s why I`m saying Sacramento Police Department.
MELBER: I think that makes a lot of sense and you know, we cover these stories, but lately, any viewer of any, I think news program knows, the rate at which we`re covering some of these what appear to be excessive force killings and shootings is less but the rate that they`re occurring in the United States has not dropped much. And so, that`s also I think, to some degree a statement about the press.
MENSA: It`s media fatigue. I mean, you know, it`s the same way. I get tired of stories. Like I saw this one recently and you know, I read it and I moved on. It`s not like maybe when out when Sterling and Philando Castile got shot, I was devastated, you know. It was like, you can only really hear the same thing so many times, but I think at some point in time, there needs to be action behind it.
MELBER: Bill, what`s your other fall back?
KRISTOL: That`s a good one, actually. I really -- I mean, I was shocked when I saw the video of the Sacramento shooting, and you know, cops have a tough job, you don`t want to second-guess them, and obviously, mistakes can happen in people but I don`t know. A 22-year-old guy with a cell phone in his own backyard or his grandmother`s backyard or something, it was terrible.
GARCIA: Yes, I`m going to switch the tone up to a something a little bit lighter, basically --
MELBER: We do -- we do both. We can do both.
GARCIA: I`m just a little frustrated. You know, I`m a 51-year-old cat, you know, grew up on hip-hop. You know, the bell bottoms would move, put a little graffiti piece on the bottom and click, and then you know, there`s always like a tie change. And then we went to like tapered jeans with like the zipper on the bottom. And then, you know, then like years later, we stepped forward and this is like (INAUDIBLE) with like super big bell bottoms. And then now it was like the skinny jean movement happened and now I`m trying to find sweatpants and now I can`t find sweatpants that aren`t like skinny jeans. It was like skinny sweatpants.
MELBER: So your fall back nominee is skinny sweatpants?
GARCIA: Skinny sweat -- like, I don`t want to wear leggings if I want to - - if I want to --
GARCIA: Yes, yes, right, exactly. Like, you know, I watch -- I just want the option, I want the freedom of option.
MELBER: You want freedom of movement.
MELBER: All right, I got one real quick, which is the least important. I`ll go last because you guys have put out some big ideas including sweatpants. I want to put the back in "FALLBACK." And you remember when Bobbito is a D.J. when Ice Cube said put your back into it?
GARCIA: I do.
MELBER: You remember that. You didn`t forget that.
GARCIA: I love that you quote me.
MELBER: So my special back related fallback, is Ben Affleck`s back tattoo needs to fall back. Bobbito, look at that. Bobbito, that is a big massive colorful back tattoo.
MENSA: You know what made think too is because I`ve been planning, like meticulously planning to do a big colorful phoenix tattoo on my chest. I have image of it that -- I mean, I think it would be amazing, I have good artists, but when I saw him with that, I started second guessing it. I was like --
MELBER: Well, you have -- you have really interesting tattoo. Do you have anything that big? You know, that`s big.
KRISTOL: Yes, I was thinking of doing that too and I decided maybe not, you know?
GARCIA: His shorts got to fall back, they`re too tight.
MELBER: All right, we`re going to fit in -- we`re going to fit in a break. I thank each of you for being a part of this. And Vic, stick around because after the break I want to talk about why you`re in Washington, the work you`re doing on this gun control movement. We`ll be right back.
MELBER: We are broadcasting live from Washington tonight ahead of what many say could be an historic day tomorrow. Over a million people are the estimates that may be partaking in this March for our lives. This is organized by students from Parkland, Florida after that terrible mass murder massacre left 17 of their classmates and teachers dead. D.C. ground zero, but as I said, the marches are all over the place, all over America and the world. More than 800 cities, 50 states or, if you`re doing the political math, hundreds of congressional districts. Back with me is Vic Mensa, who I mentioned is one of the artists performing at this march tomorrow as well as Kevin Trejos,a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Kevin, what does this mean to you tomorrow?
KEVIN TREJOS, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Yes, I mean, it`s our time that we`re saying, look, enough is enough. We`re here, we want -- we`re at the capitol and we want gun reform. We want people to add funding for mental health, we want to fix the background check system. Why has it been so lax for so long? And this is all so important to us and it`s something that could have prevented what happened at our school.
MELBER: And how do you feel when you see so many of your fellow students leading adults, as many people have noted?
TREJOS: I`m proud of them. I mean, if it weren`t for them then we wouldn`t be -- being heard because hopefully, their voices end up being something substantial enough that lawmakers actually decide to do something finally.
MELBER: Vic, you have a following, people listen to you, they listen to your music. What made you get involved in this?
MENSA: I think it`s unnecessary that our nation be plagued by gun violence in the way it is. My father is from Ghana. Ghana had single-digit homicides last year, you know? It`s a small country but even, in perspective --
MELBER: Per capita, yes.
MENSA: You know, in perspective with American society, it`s completely unnecessary. So when my management told me that they were a part of this organizing, I was very adamant that I wanted to -- I wanted to be here.
MELBER: I want to ask you something as a cultural leader. Some viewers know that I kind of like rap. You are a rapper so I think you might like rap.
MENSA: It`s possible.
MELBER: Some rap does glorify violence and guns and I wonder what you think about that as you`re clearly setting a very different message for the people who follow you.
MENSA: I think what you have to remember is that this is America and this nation was built on blood. This nation was built on the backs of slaves, on the bones of Native Americans. And this nation became a global superpower through slave-picked cotton and tobacco. And the violence is very much in part of a reason that America is as powerful as it is. If you create these situations, you create these inner city ghettos with no possibility of upward mobility and red line the communities and you put these weapons in proximity, people commit proximity crime, you know. And they`re describing -- I think that music is describing what they know around them. It`s not like they`ve recreated the wheel or something.
MELBER: Right, there`s been stories about --
MENSA: This is America. It`s ultra-violent.
MELBER: Yes, I want to get Kevin as well. What do you want to say to that building behind us, to this Congress that people say both parties have done so little on gun control?
TREJOS: Get up. I mean, I don`t know, they`re -- Congress is slow but they`re being a little bit too slow. This is literally like they there`s shooting after shooting after shooting and it shouldn`t have to take it to get to our school for them to actually do something. Why has it taken so long? This should have been done after, I don`t know, Columbine or especially after Sandy Hook. So, I mean, today I saw the news that they`re finally going ban bump stocks but why were they legal in the first place? It doesn`t make sense. So this -- I mean, I hope we just kind of steamroll from here and keep going and get more laws passed.
MENSA: We need to ban the AR-15. Ban the hands down. Let me say this because I know you have to end the segment. I want to say that this gets overlooked and it gets packaged every time we talk about this, the AR-15 with the bump stocks with the background checks. Main priority, ban assault rifles. There`s no need for them. That needs to be the main priority, that`s what we have to push for.
MELBER: We will be watching you tomorrow because MSNBC is covering this live all day and there`s going to be a lot of eyes on both of you who are leading this so I commend you for helping explain to us what you`re doing, why you`re doing it. Both of you, Kevin and Vic, thank you very much. I want to fit in a break and we`ll be right back.
MELBER: And before we go, I want to give you an important programming note. As we mentioned, tomorrow MSNBC will have special live coverage of the March for Our Lives rallies. It begins at 10:00 a.m. Eastern with many of your favorite anchors. I will also be a part of the coverage bringing you the latest from the march at 6:00 p.m. and again at 10:00 p.m. -- but most importantly HARDBALL starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END